There is, however, a large variation in the permitted retention times across countries. By exploiting a quasi-experimental variation in this retention time, the authors investigate what happens when negative information is deleted earlier from credit files. The authors find that the loss of information led banks to tighten their lending standards significantly as the expected retention time was diminished from on average three-and-a-half to three years exactly. Simultaneously, they find that borrowers who experience this shorter retention time default more frequently. Since borrowers nevertheless obtain more net access to credit and total defaults do not increase overall, the authors cannot rule out that this reduction in retention time is optimal.